Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

Frances McDormand, Amy Adams and Shirley Henderson in the movie version.

Before heading to a party, the dowdy governess Miss Pettigrew gets a makeover from actress Delysia LaFosse's beauty parlour-owning friend, Edythe Dubarry:

Miss Pettigrew stared. She caught the back of a chair for support. She felt faint. Another woman stood there. A woman of fashion: poised, sophisticated, finished, fastidiously elegant. A woman of no age. Obviously not young. Obviously not old. Who would care about age? No one. Not in a woman of that charming exterior. The rich, black velvet of the gown was of so deep and lustrous a sheen it glowed like colour. An artist had created it. It had the wicked, brilliant cut that made its wearer look both daring and chaste. It intrigued the beholder. He had to discover which. Its severe lines made her look taller. The ear-rings made her look just a little, well, experienced. No other word. The necklace gave her elegance. She, Miss Pettigrew, elegant.

The delicate flush! Was it natural? Who could tell? That loosely curling hair! No ends, no wisps, no lank drooping. Was it her own? She didn't recognize it. Those eyes, so much more blue than memory recalled! Those artfully shaded brows and lashes! That mouth, with its faint, provocative redness! Was it coloured? Only by kissing it would a man find a satisfactory answer.

She smiled. The woman smiled back, assured, composed. Where was the meek carriage, the deprecating smile, the timid shyness, the dowdy figure, the ugly hair, the sallow complexion? Gone. Gone under the magic of 'Du Barry's' expert owner and manager.

Miss Pettigrew, rapt, thrilled, transported, gazed at herself as her dreams had painted her. A lump came into her throat. Her eyes became misty.

'Guinevere,' screamed Miss Dubarry in a panic. 'For God's sake, control yourself.'

'Guinevere,' gasped Miss LaFosse. 'Control, I implore you. Your make-up. Remember your duty to your make-up.'

-- Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day, Persephone Books, P. 98 - 99

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